When my girl friends and I started planning our annual jaunt to WrestleMania, we initially slated Sunday morning for a non-wrestling, fancy brunch. However, our Mania weekend plans would be thrown for a loop when it was announced that one of our favorite groups of troublemakers would be throwing a block party on the morning of WrestleMania! It all started with a cryptic, video tweet from Tama Tonga in Tokyo in late November, where he posed a simple question: “What if we threw a… block party?”
Quick BCBP Rundown
Time/Date: Sunday, April 7th (9AM VIPS; 10AM GA to 6PM)
Venue: Redd’s Restaurant, 317 Washington Ave, Carlstadt, NJ 07072
Hosted by: The Bullet Club of NJPW
Catering: Jimmy’s Famous Seafood, Baltimore, MD
The location of the Block Party is just down the road from MetLife Stadium where WrestleMania 35 will be held. Personally, as a kid who grew up in Jersey, early April is still way too early for me to be in the cheap seats in a open air arena for seven plus hours. However, with spring on its way, some fresh air, great food and even better people is an ideal way to spend a Sunday recovering from the ROH x NJPW G1 Supercard the night before!
Unlike the rushed atmosphere of formal conventions and pre-show meet and greets, the goal is a relaxed, social environment where the BC members will actually socialize with all the fans in addition to designed times for photos and autographs. Outside of those times, there is an understood embargo on photos or autographs requests from the talent. In exchange, fans are given the opportunity to have conversations and play games with the members of The Bullet Club!
While the girls and I fought to stay up to watch Wrestle Kingdom live, the purpose was twofold. Along with massive matches happening, the #BCBP ticket sale went live. When the original prices for GA and VIP were announced, we did some quick math. Using pricing models from out previous experiences at different promotions, opting for the VIP experience was a no-brainer. For what was being offered at the price point, I feel like I stole something.
The last time I splurged on a VIP experience, it was for Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball tour1 at Madison Square Garden in 2011. While it a challenge balancing the monthly books, honestly, this experience feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The VIP Experience
- A Group Photo featuring: Jay White, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Hikuleo, Haku, Bad Luck Fale, Taiji Ishimori, Yujiro Takahashi, Robbie Eagles, Chase Owens, & Gino Gambino
- A beautifully 11″ x 17″ illustrated, color print, autographed by the members of Bullet Club (see tweet below!)
- Signatures from all above mentioned members on one personal item.
- A Video Promo with a member of the BC
- 4-hours all you can eat and drink (10AM-2PM)
- Live music, fun activities, and more!
The most difficult thing wasn’t deciding what to wear, but which personal item to bring to have everyone sign. To avoid being laden with stuff to wrangle the entire time, I purchased the NJPW Magazine: Road to New Beginning . It has a dashing multi-page photo series of the members, as well as the current IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Jay White, as the cover boy. Although many of the newest and international members aren’t included, there is plenty of room for everyone to sign.
Scheduled Photo Ops
Individual Photographs and autographs are available for a la carte purchase. This is one of my absolute favorite things about fan events, especially when I can budget ahead of time. Putting the photo ops and autograph signings up well in advance, not only helped me budget appropriately. It also saves time one the day of from waiting in a long queue to buy tickets, only to get into individual queues, which can be a bit of a free-for-all at times.
With the VIP group photo and additional signature, the bulk of the talent were checked off the list in one swoop! I only needed to add single photo ops, if I wished! The other smart planning choice was having designated signing schedule for the talent, so folks don’t have to pick and choose. I tried to be responsible, but I am going to have a busy day ahead with:
- Current IWGP Heavyweight Champion Jay White
- Current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Taiji Ishimori
- Robbie Eagles
- Gedo & Jado Special Dual Photo Op
OOTD: Bone Soldier Brunchette
It is no secret, that when it comes to dressing for fan events and shows, I try my best to wear a shirt relevant to the theme. However, the bulk of my New Japan-related wardrobe tends to be the babyface factions and just about anything Hello Kitty x Lion Mark.
I respect so many of the guys in Bullet Club, both current and former, but wearing shirts with gun-related imagery in Orlando, a city recently affected by mass shooting is tricky. It can sometimes raise eyebrows, especially by the local law enforcement in public places.
It’s no secret that my preference for wrestling styles tend to be high-flying and technical, so New Japan’s Junior Heavyweight Division is by far one of my favorites and one of the best in the world. Debuting last year, Taiji Ishimori won me over quickly with his outstanding performance in the Best of the Super Juniors 25 Tournament. He and Hiromu Takahashi put on one of my favorite Jr. Heavy matches of 2018 in the tournament finals.
At Wrestle Kingdom 13, Taiji won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship from KUSHIDA2, so I decided it was time that I bought a BC shirt. As luck would have it, new champion meant new shirt design!
Naturally, no sooner did I order Taiji’s Bloody Cross t-shirt (named after his finishing move) from Japan, it went up on Pro Wrestling Tees’ website as well. Personally, I prefer the quality and cut of the Japanese shirts to those of PWT, so when it’s in the budget, I’ll pay the little bit extra to have an order shipped from Japan.
Now, I just have to figure out how to coordinate it for a Sunday brunch-worthy day out with some of my favorite people. Maybe some knee-high boots and a cute skirt? Better pack some warm tights!
Current BCBP Itinerary
- Some Awful Hour in the Morning – Get ready & leave for Jersey (three girls & one bathroom)
- 815AM – Join the Queue for the VIP Wristbands
- 9AM – VIP Photo Op entry into the event
- 10AM – Kick off brunch with some lovely Jimmy’s Seafood & a toast with my favorite ladies!
- Attend the scheduled photo ops, play a wicked round of giant Jenga and corn hole, get that promo sorted out.
- Enjoy all the other wonderful things like checking out the contests, Q&As and maybe even a little dancing to the live DJ!
- Also, make sure I maximize that Jimmy’s Seafood buffet before 2PM.
- Keep having a blast with everyone there until it’s time to head back to the hotel with a full belly and an even fuller heart!
- 6PM – Get back to NYC for our Pajama Jam WrestleMania Watch Party (because there is no way I am sitting outside in the cold for 7+ hours… and I am originally FROM New Jersey.)
There’s Still Time to Join!
BCBP event merchandise is available for pre-order, with pickup at the BCBP as option available! There are not nearly enough events which permit the ease of online shopping with day of pick-up to help save time by skipping the merch line.
Event tickets are still available, but the VIP experiences sold out quickly in January. Only those under 21, are permitted to purchase the “under 21” admission. Those 21 and up, must buy the full cost adult admission, even if they do not drink alcohol. Those purchasing the wrong ticket may be in for a bit of a shock come event day.
This event might be one of the ones I am most excited for, purely because nothing is being left up to chance, no last minute sticker shock and everything is already paid for! My biggest challenge is figuring out which skirt to wear, so I can still eat my fill of the buffet. That’s it. I cannot thank my gal pals for coming along with me on this wild trip, and so thankful that the BC put together such a stellar event.
The countdown is on, so tell me what’s the best fan experience you’ve ever had!
- The show I attended was taped for Gaga’s Monster Ball Live at MSG HBO special, and yes, if you look at the crowd very carefully during “Teeth,” you’ll see me in a green sweater against the railings, just over Gaga’s left shoulder.
- I could write an entire essay on why KUSHIDA is to blame for my obsession with New Japan, but I’ll save that for another time.